MANAGING DISEASES AND PESTS OF HONEY BEES TO IMPROVE QUEEN AND COLONY HEALTH
Location: Bee Research
Title: Bee cups: Single-use cages for honey bee experiments
Submitted to: Journal of Apicultural Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 16, 2009
Publication Date: August 5, 2009
Citation: Evans, J.D., Chen, Y., Diprisco, G., Pettis, J.S., Williams, V.P. 2009. Bee cups: Single-use cages for honey bee experiments. Journal of Apicultural Research. 48(4):300-302.
Interpretive Summary: Honey bees face many threats including chemical exposure, parasites, and pathogens. Determining the importance of these threats can help improve management decisions. Controlled experiments are needed in order to evaluate both individual threats to bees and combinations of threats. Here we describe a novel system for maintaining adult bees and exposing them, through feeding, to factors proposed as causes of bee declines. The described bee chambers are low in cost and easily made. We hope that these cups or updates are adopted widely by researchers as a way to generate similar survival data across different laboratories.
Honey bees face challenges ranging from poor nutrition to exposure to parasites, pathogens, and environmental chemicals. These challenges drain colony resources and have been tied to both subtle and extreme colony declines, including the enigmatic Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Understanding how various challenges affect bees, and especially how these challenges interact with each other, will require numerous controlled experiments. Here we describe our attempts to design and test cages for exposing adult honey bees to pathogens and other factors that impact their health. The urgency to develop these methods arose largely from the devastating losses of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), and from the need to test hypotheses related to that phenomenon. The cages we developed are low-cost, sterile, and capable of keeping worker bees alive for up to 60 days.